On Wednesday, Ithaca College’s Board of Trustees announced the selection of Shirley M. Collado as Ithaca College’s ninth president. Collado currently serves as executive vice chancellor and chief operating officer at Rutgers University–Newark. She will assume the presidency at Ithaca on July 1, 2017.
“I am proud to welcome Shirley Collado to Ithaca College as our next president,” said Thomas Grape ’80, chairman of the board of trustees. “The breadth and caliber of her experience in student and faculty development, her strength in large-scale strategic planning, her commitment to shared governance, and her track record of bringing people together to solve problems and get results make her the perfect leader to shape the next chapter of this college’s history.”
Collado succeeds Thomas R. Rochon, who has served as president of Ithaca College since 2008.
The board’s unanimous approval followed the recommendation of Collado by a presidential search committee that formed in March 2016. “The committee has done an outstanding job,” said Grape. “We owe them a debt of gratitude for their thoughtfulness and commitment.” The 15-member committee, comprising trustees, faculty, staff, and students, was chaired by trustee James Nolan ’77, parent ’01.
“I am deeply honored to have been selected as the next president of such an accomplished, energetic, and deeply engaged community,” said Collado. “I admire Ithaca College’s devotion to student growth and success, its resolve in facing difficult problems together head-on, and its desire to make sure the college and its graduates make a powerful impact on the world.”
An expert in organizational behavior and development, Collado has held executive leadership roles in higher education for more than 16 years at private and public institutions, as well as in the nonprofit sector. Trained as a clinical psychologist at Duke University, Collado specializes in the intersection of race, ethnicity, and gender in trauma experiences and treatment. She has taught at a number of colleges and universities, including New York University, Georgetown University, George Mason University, the New School, Middlebury College, and Lafayette College. She earned a B.S. in human and organizational development and psychology from Vanderbilt University, and M.A. and Ph.D. degrees in clinical psychology from Duke University.
At Rutgers University–Newark, Collado led the development of the Honors Living-Learning Community (HLLC), a residential honors community aimed at attracting and supporting talented students who may be overlooked by traditional honors programs. Together, cohorts of students join an intergenerational learning community composed of students, faculty, and community partners focused on tackling some of the nation’s most pressing social issues through an innovative curriculum centered on local citizenship in a global world. Collado played a central role in addressing some of the highest priorities in implementing the university’s strategic plan while engaging both internal and external stakeholders. She also worked to align the academic affairs and student affairs functions at Rutgers University–Newark in order to increase inclusiveness and student success.
Prior to her appointment at Rutgers University–Newark, Collado served as vice president for student affairs and dean of the college at Middlebury. During her time there, Collado led the transformation of the Center for Careers and Internships, the development of the Center for the Comparative Study of Race and Ethnicity, the strengthening of the residential life experience, the development of forward-looking sexual misconduct and judicial policies, and the overhaul of a new student orientation program, which earned national recognition.
The strategic work Collado has done to reach across institutional boundaries and build community has garnered widespread attention and support. For example, in July 2016 Collado developed and launched the BOLD Women’s Leadership Network, a collaboration among Rutgers University–Newark, Middlebury College, Smith College, and the University of California–Fullerton. Funded by a $5 million grant from Helen Gurley Brown’s Pussycat Foundation, BOLD aims to develop courageous leadership among college women who possess the skills necessary to move discourse forward on some of our nation’s most challenging social issues. In 2012 Collado, with a major grant from the Andrew A. Mellon Foundation, designed and led the Creating Connections Consortium (C3), regarded as one of the most innovative faculty diversity initiatives in higher education. C3 is a partnership designed to enhance interactions between liberal arts colleges and research universities in order to expand the pathway to the professoriate for underrepresented graduate students, including minority, first-generation, and low-income students.
Chancellor of Rutgers University–Newark Nancy Cantor expressed admiration for Collado’s leadership: “I am absolutely thrilled at the appointment of Shirley Collado as the next president of Ithaca College. Shirley is a terrific leader who collaborates and motivates all those around her to pursue the mission of higher education today of educating the next diverse generation of professionals, citizens, and leaders, and to foster high-impact scholarship that makes a real difference in our world. She has been a true star. She is a consummate collaborator and a leader who gets things done, all wrapped up in one very strong and thoughtful and caring visionary. This is a wonderful appointment, and I look forward eagerly to all that will bloom under her leadership at Ithaca.”
Born in Brooklyn, New York, Collado is the daughter of immigrants from the Dominican Republic. A member of The Posse Foundation’s first cohort of students, Collado is the first person in her family to complete college and the first Posse Scholar to complete a doctoral degree. The Posse Foundation recruits and trains outstanding student leaders from urban public schools and sends them in diverse teams, or “posses,” to attend top colleges and universities in the United States. Collado is also the first Posse Scholar to serve as a trustee on the board of an institution of higher education. She currently serves as an officer of the Board of Trust at her alma mater, Vanderbilt University. She also serves as a trustee for Little Red School House and Elisabeth Irwin High School (LREI) in New York City.
Collado eventually went on to serve as The Posse Foundation’s executive vice president. She credits her experience with informing much of her future approach to leadership. “What I experienced during my four years as a Posse Scholar was the transformational power of collaboration—of creating opportunity by forming a network of diverse people supporting one another to achieve success,” said Collado. “Together, we learned how to bring out the best in one another, seek common ground, bring our whole selves into our work, and take risks that enabled us to achieve more than we might have tried on our own. Those are the same lessons I try to impart in my students and colleagues, and the principles I use every day to help me lead with authenticity, courage, and purpose.”
According to Nolan, Collado’s authenticity stood out to him and the search committee members. “In all of our many interactions with Shirley Collado, I was impressed by how forthright and engaged she was,” said Nolan. “Shirley is a collaborative academic leader, a strong decision maker, an authentic culture builder, and an outstanding communicator who leans into hard work with great truth. I think she is going to be an absolutely inspiring leader for the Ithaca community.”
Collado is married to A. Van Jordan, an award-winning poet. Jordan, who currently serves as the Henry Rutgers Presidential Professor in the Department of English at Rutgers University–Newark, will be rejoining the University of Michigan in the fall as a Collegiate Professor in the Department of English. He also will hold an appointment as distinguished visiting professor at Ithaca College, where he will teach occasional minicourses and master classes.
“Van and I are looking forward to becoming active members of the campus and local communities,” said Collado. “We are grateful to the search committee and the board of trustees for inviting us to be a part of the college, and we are excited to see what we all can accomplish together.”